It’s the end of the growing season for tubers – and you’re probably wondering how to cure and store potatoes for long term storage.
It’s a simple process….and very necessary if you want your potatoes to stay edible into the winter.
By now, if you haven’t harvested your tubers, the green stems are likely drooping, and you’re itching to get your hands dirty and pull up those treasures you’ve waited all year to harvest.
And you should be excited – you’ve worked hard & should enjoy your haul!
Nothing is worse than working so hard – only to have the tubers rot because you didn’t cure them properly or store them in the right conditions.
In this article, I will show you how to cure and store potatoes for long term storage so you can enjoy them in stews and combined with cheese and bacon all season. We’ll also cover how to prepare them for storage after they’ve gone through the cure process.
This is a time tested process for long term storage that our ancestors used!
How To Cure and Store Potatoes For Long Term Storage
After you’ve carefully dug up your potatoes, leave them outdoors in the sun (and away from hungry critters) for an hour or so to dry.
Don’t wash them – just let them dry. Washing them could result in dampness or mold.
If they’re still excessively dirty after they’ve dried, use a soft brush and gently sweep off clumps of dirt. Only do this if you must – any sort of brushing runs the risk of damaging your potatoes and they won’t last in long term storage.
At this point, you should examine your tubers – if any show signs of damage, such as a tear in the outer skin or holes, eat them right away.
The potatoes will heal some damage as they cure, but ones with excessive damage might not store well, so it’s simplest to just consume them ASAP.
Store Potatoes Out Of The Light
To cure and store potatoes for long term storage (up to 7 months), the next step is to allow them to dry for a longer period, 1 – 2 weeks, this time out of the light.
Have you ever seen potatoes with green skin? These are potatoes that have been allowed to cure too long in the sun. After enough time, the skins are no longer edible.
Sunlight causes potatoes to produce solanine, which turns potatoes bitter and is poisonous. So, it’s critical to store them out of the light once they’ve completed the first cure.
Allow the potatoes to cure in a dark place where temperatures are about 55 degrees. For the first 2 weeks, the humidity should be close to 85 percent.
To ensure the temperature and humidity are adequate while you cure potatoes, use a thermometer like this one. It has both a humidity and temperature gauge, and it’s cheap enough – it’s a sound investment.
I’ve found it’s best to lay the potatoes out during this phase – you want the air to circulate around them so they finish drying. It’s important they form a thick skin, which stands up to the storage process better.
During this time, the potatoes are also “healing” wounds that occurred earlier in the the cure process. This, also, allows them to withstand the long time in storage and remain fresh.
After this phase of the cure process is complete, move the potatoes to a dark storage area where temps are cooler – no more than 40 degrees F. A cellar in your home – or a root cellar if you’re so lucky – is a perfect spot.
The consistent temperature is important; if temps are higher, your potatoes might sprout eyes or even start to shrivel.
To store potatoes for long term storage, once they’re dry, 6-inch bins with slatted sides like these are a good option. The air can still circulate, and saves space. Just be sure critters can’t get into the bins.
Another option that’s recommended is to use perforated plastic or paper bags. These allow the potatoes to “breathe” while you store them.
If any of your potatoes sprout eyes while they’re in your store room, double check the temperatures and light. If you spot mold or notice shriveling, check the humidity as well. Under the right conditions, your potatoes should store for quite a long time – up to 7 months.
Now you know how to cure potatoes for long term storage!